Welcome back to SFF Opening Lines! As a reminder, this series focuses on the all-important first line of a novel; the sentence that shapes the tone and very essence of the novel that follows those words. While a first line doesn’t have to shock you to your core, it should intrigue you enough to want to keep reading.
This mini-review will include the first line and—depending on if I’ve read the book or not—either my opinion on how this first line sums up the novel or my first impression and predictions of what the vibe of the story will be. This week, I’m looking at Girl, Serpent, Thorn, Romanov, and Wilder Girls. I haven’t read any of these, so I’m excited to give my first impressions!
Girl, Serpent, Thorn (Melissa Bashardoust)
“Stories always begin the same way: There was and there was not.”
Okay, so I’ve read the first ~20 pages of this book, but I’m still going to do first impressions/predictions on this line.
This sentence intrigued me because, in my mind, there are a million ways stories begin that don’t include “there was and there was not.” I want to read on to discover if this adage is commonplace in the world we’re diving into, or if it’s a bold claim the story will work to support. To be fair, this is the prologue’s first line, but the prologue is where the story begins, which is why I chose this sentence instead of Chapter 1’s first line. I have no idea where the story goes from this line, though.
Romanov (Nadine Brandes)
“I watched my diaries burn.”
Oof. I really like this one – it’s probably my favorite this week. As a huge fan of the Anastasia movie and musical (I’m also querying my own Anastasia retelling), this first line caught my attention straight away. Why are her diaries burning? Why is she watching them burn? From where is she watching?
I think this one does a great job of giving us some insight to the character, the world, foreshadowing motivations, and inviting readers to continue on within five words. This is a really great opening line.
Wilder Girls (Rory Power)
“Something. Way out in the white-dark.”
Because the first line was one word, I gave this book two sentences. While it doesn’t give us an indication of who’s speaking, it does a great job of world-building and stake- or conflict-setting up from the get-go. I’m immediately invested in figuring out who or what is in the “white-dark,” what the “white-dark” is, and if that thing is dangerous to our narrator or main character. This was a very close second.
Next Time on Opening Lines…
My next post will include Spellbreaker, Aurora Rising, and Mother Knows Best. Have other SFF books’ first lines you’d like me to comment on? Drop them below and I’ll add them to my list!
As always, thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day!